Windhoek - The Namibian government is implementing a raft of stiff penalties for those who engage in sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
The past week has seen a number of protests against the rise in SGBV in Namibia, with police saying they have recorded more than 500 incidences that have resulted in the deaths of at least 100 women this year.
Prime Minister Sara Kuugongelwa-Amadhle this week told Parliament that cabinet was taking cross-cutting measures that would boost prosecution rates, protect victims, improve the security of the vulnerable, and enhance implementation of existing legislative provisions.
“Establishment of (Sexual and GBV Offences Courts) has been agreed upon. Existing court infrastructure will be used in this regard, and where space is a constraint within the sector, arrangements will be made to use other available infrastructures.
“Indeed, the seriousness of SGBV justifies that the punishment reflects that. The current law provides for sentences for convicted SGBV offenders of up to 37-and-a-half years, which is equal to two-thirds of a life sentence. A convicted person must serve 25 years before being eligible for parole.
“We in the executive shall continue to work to ensure capacity for efficient and effective investigations to support effective holding to account of SGBV perpetrators by the Courts,” PM Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.
She said the government had agreed to review current prisoners in the correctional services system and separate repeat-offenders, revoke bail of trial-awaiting persons accused of sex offences and/or murder, institute all-day armed patrols by the police, and mobilise more financial and logistical resources to enable law enforcement agencies to conduct operations aimed at curbing SGBV across Namibia.
The increased spending on combatting SGBV includes strengthen the capacity of GBV Protection Units and forensic investigators and other experts.
The prime minister said, “The following immediate actions will be taken or are being undertaken under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture: draw up a circular reinforcing Safe Schools Framework; develop a communications strategy (weekly messaging) and advocacy to strengthen all existing measures and programmes; release summative report on the re-enforced response strategies, host a multi-media new/ press conference and Knowledge fair to showcase all strategies and continue and diversify capacity building of Regional School Counsellors and RACE co-ordinators.”
She also said educators convicted of SGBV-related cases were presently barred from re-employment in the sector for eight years.
“We assure the Namibian people that the measures announced as requested for implementation will be implemented with expediency and commitment,” she added.